Senator Builds on Efforts to Improve Support for Community Development and Housing Needs in Minot & across Western ND
WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 10, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) heeded her call to improve access to affordable and safe housing for low-income families in North Dakota, and stressed the importance of flood resiliency and recovery needs in the Minot community.
Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, announced that HUD Secretary Julián Castro heeded her call and committed to making sure HUD continues using rental surveys conducted in North Dakota – an important tool in determining Fair Market Rents (FMRs), which are measurements that help low-income families afford decent housing. Heitkamp continued to press Castro on the importance of locally-conducted surveys, which provide the most accurate and recent data to reflect the real cost of housing across North Dakota, which has drastically increased over the past several years.
Heitkamp also stressed to Castro the importance of the City of Minot’s efforts as it moves through the National Disaster Resiliency Competition – a federal competition that will fund plans to support resiliency, recovery, and revitalization needs in communities that had federally-declared disasters in recent years. Last month, HUD announced that the city advanced to the final stage of the competition. In March, Heitkamp voiced her support to Minot Mayor Chuck Barney for the city’s application. The historic 2011 Minot flood inundated approximately 4,100 homes and businesses in Minot, and forced about 12,000 Minot residents from their homes.
“The Minot community and western North Dakota have certainly seen their share of difficult housing challenges, impacted by a devastating flood and a high cost of living in the region,” said Heitkamp. “We have to make sure all families in the area have the resources and support they need to tackle these difficulties head-on. Following Secretary Castro’s visit to North Dakota last fall, I’m committed to holding him to his word that HUD will help us address our state’s affordable housing crisis in a meaningful way. During our conversation, Secretary Castro agreed to continue using local rental surveys and I reiterated the challenges Minot continues to face in recovering from the 2011 flood as it moves through the National Disaster Resiliency Competition. Bolstering our state’s infrastructure is critical as North Dakota’s population and economy grow, and I’ll continue to lead efforts to make sure we build a strong and affordable housing future for our state.”
In North Dakota, Heitkamp has led efforts to address the state’s housing crisis and make available more affordable housing options for families. Last October, Heitkamp brought Castro to North Dakota, where he saw firsthand the housing challenges on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation and visited Williston the view the area’s housing growth and discuss federal efforts to address high rents, a lack of affordable housing, and homelessness issues in the region. During the visit, Castro announced HUD had approved emergency waivers to provide public housing authorities with more rental cost flexibility to more accurately reflect the needs of local western North Dakota residents, as Heitkamp asked him to do. Just one month prior to Castro’s visit, Heitkamp pressed him on HUD’s proposed FMRs for North Dakota which do not accurately account for the state’s booming population.
Following Castro’s visit to North Dakota, Heitkamp helped secure higher Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan limits for seven western North Dakota counties, where the cost of housing has spiked. The raised ceiling would allow more low-to-middle income families, first-time home buyers, and seniors afford to purchase a home, which has become increasingly out of reach as a result of the state’s housing shortage.
Contact Senator Heitkamp’s press office at press (at) heitkamp.senate (dot) gov